Made famous by Martin Scorcese s film Goodfellas, Jimmy "The Gent" Burke was one of the most prolific mob earners in New York history. But after the success of the infamous Lufthansa Heist, Burke unleashed a wave of murders that rocked New York City, and led to his downfall.
This episode focuses on the gangster of suburbia who led a double life, Alejandro Corredor. He seemed like an average family man living in the small town of Fairway, Kansas. But in his other life, he was Kansas City's cocaine pipeline, moving massive shipments from Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. With the money from drugs, he invested in a local gangsta rap group called Block Life. Eventually, several members of Block Life helped him sell drugs to some of the most notorious gangs in Kansas City. As the money from drugs and the success of Block Life grew, Alejandro strove to keep a balance between his two worlds. But his dealings with the Sinaloa Cartel led him down a dangerous path that would threaten to destroy everything.
In a decade long criminal run, the Cutt Boyz used violence to control the drug trade within the B.W. Cooper Housing Complex in New Orleans. Washington became the main supplier of Heroin, while Benjamin grew his murderous reputation as a main enforcer and was eventually responsible for three murders. Following a unique investigation approach, federal authorities indicted 11 Cutt Boyz under the RICO statutes for narcotics distribution and murder. But federal authorities weren't prepared for Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic destruction in 2005, which damaged evidence and displaced witnesses. Ultimately, they were able to piece together the case and successfully convicted all 11 Cutt Boyz. Washington received a 20-year sentence, while Benjamin will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Many African-Americans made their name performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Jimi Hendrix. The roster of talented artists who made their careers after a successful amateur night at the Apollo grew so large, that the venue earned a reputation as the place to jump-start the career of an ambitious hopeful. Other performers, like Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, came to the theater after experiencing big professional success, adding further credibility to the historic New York concert hall. Explore the biographies of some of the more notable African-Americans who stepped out onto the Apollo stage, making entertainment history.
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
They've made us laugh. They've made us cry. They've made us nostalgic, and they've even made us vengeful. They're among Hollywood's most famous black actresses, appearing in classic films like The Color Purple, Poetic Justice, Soul Food, Dreamgirls and The Help, as well as on television and on the stage. Explore our collection of famous black actresses, including Halle Berry, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne and Angela Bassett.
Spanning jazz to soul to funk, to more contemporary genres like R&B, rap and pop, African-American musicians are responsible for chart-topping hits like "I Feel Good," "Respect," "Georgia on My Mind," "Let The Good Times Roll," "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Thriller." Explore our collection of famous black musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Duke Ellington, James Brown, Little Richard, Beyoncé Knowles, and more.
From Whitney Houston's unbelievable vocal range to Michael Jackson's spot-on pitch and unforgettable choreography, these are the famous black singers who, together, have unequivocally defined pop culture for the masses for more than a century. Explore this group to learn more about some of the world's most renowned African-American vocalists, including Josephine Baker, Whitney Houston, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé Knowles, Chuck Berry, Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige, André 3000, Janet Jackson and Gladys Knight.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was in the grips of a "red scare." Many prominent individuals suspected of sympathizing with liberal or humanitarian causes were branded a communist threat, and even accused of espionage. Hollywood was a major focus of the accusations, and after 10 actors refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the blacklist was created. Hundreds of actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters and other entertainment professionals were barred from working. Here are some of the famous people who were on the Hollywood blacklist.
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Long before the Internet, the feminine icons of the day were the pin-up queens. Sex symbols like Bettie Page and Rita Hayworth adorned the walls of boys' bedrooms and military barracks alike. Modern day icons like Farrah Fawcett and Raquel Welch are remembered for classic, risque photos that became the most popular posters in the country. Here's our group of famous pin-ups.
The quest for civil rights for people of all races and economic backgrounds has been a fundamental part of U.S. history. Those who have worked directly in community organizing and empowerment, such as Dorothy Height, Marian Wright Edelman and Dolores Huerta, inspire us with their vision and strength of character. Then there are those who use the arts to create poignant messages on justice. Whether using music, literature or sculpture, figures like Joan Baez, June Jordan, Miriam Makeba, Augusta Savage and Alice Walker have imparted wisdom to last through the ages.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959, after Walk of Fame recording executives compiled a list of industry leaders who they realized would never get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but deserved recognition. The group helped found the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and named their award the "Grammy" as a nod to Edison's gramophone. Since then, hundreds of music industry members have received Grammys for their notable accomplishments in the field of music and recording. Here are the many winners of this now-prestigious award.
After the Civil War, many of the country's best and brightest black advocates, artists, entrepreneurs and intellectuals moved to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem. Thanks largely to the efforts of these residents, Harlem became both the cradle of a cultural revolution and the heart of the civil rights movement. Meet some of the many people who gave—and continue to give—this neighborhood a voice, simply by calling it home.
Jazz vocalists have made immeasurable contributions to the American songbook. Not only was Louis Armstrong renowned for his innovations as a trumpet soloist, but he also had a distinctive, gravelly voice that incorporated swing and humor. A host of other jazz singers enjoyed great popularity in the mid-20th century, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and Nina Simone. Several established careers in film and television as well. Contemporary artists like Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall continue to carry the musical baton.
They make music with instruments they were born with - their voices. Gifted vocalists have entertained audiences across musical genres from the tour de force arias of Luciano Pavarotti to the classic crooning of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to the soulful vocals of artists like Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. With their powerful lyricism, singers like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen became poet laureates of American music while artists including Joan Baez and Joe Strummer used their voices to prompt social change while they entertained. Rockers from Elvis Presley to The Beatles to Kurt Cobain helped define their generations through their songs while icons like Michael Jackson, Cher and Whitney Houston shaped pop culture with their larger-than-life voices and personas. See these and more famous singers who have struck a chord in musical history.
Originally called Toast of the Town, The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948-1971 on CBS and was an American staple in the 50s and 60s. The American variety show featured the Who's Who of celebritydom over the decades, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, The Jackson 5, and The Doors.